Saturday, January 31, 2015

Harvey House Publishing {Sponsored Giveaway}

Do you want to become saints? 
Here is the secret: confession is the lock; confidence in your confessor is the key. This is how you open heaven's gates.
~ St. John Bosco

In honor of today's feast of St. John Bosco, one of author Nancy Carabio Belangers favorite saints, Harvey House Publishing has offered to send TWO of my visitors here at Shower of Roses an autographed copy of The Gate! 

The Gate is the third novel for Young Adults written by Nancy Carabio Belanger, sharing a message on the dignity of the Catholic priesthood and God's calling for each of us. In addition to receiving the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, The Gate was awarded first-place winner for Best Catholic Novel in the 2014 Catholic Press Association Book Awards! Our oldest son received a copy of The Gate in his Easter Basket last year.  

The Gate
For smart-aleck Josh, being a Christian in the eighth grade is completely irrelevant, especially with the temptations that middle school can bring. For him, life is all about playing video games, getting money, and causing trouble. He doesn’t need anybody and he makes his own rules. When his teacher assigns a pen-pal project, Josh meets Pie, a spunky senior citizen with a love of his Catholic faith, Saint John Bosco, and the New York Yankees. But much to Josh’s surprise, Pie creates his own project for Josh, and Josh realizes that God has a plan—even for him.

In this inspiring novel that radiates the dignity of the priesthood and the discovery of God’s calling for each of us, Josh is shocked to find himself fighting hard on a spiritual battlefield, but often for the wrong side. As the friendship with his new mentor deepens, Josh learns that God has more in store for him than he could have ever imagined.

I've included the Amazon link above so you can read additional reviews, but The Gate can be ordered directly from Harvey House Publishing with optional inscriptions from the author at no additional charge and FREE standard shipping. Click here to place an order!

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below:
(Due to the high cost of international shipping, this giveaway is open to US residents only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Trust all things to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, Help of Christians and you will see what miracles are.
~ St. John Bosco

Friday, January 30, 2015

New Additions to Our February Book Basket

I've been working on filling our book basket with books for February. I love choosing one or two saint books each month to add to our family's ever growing collection. Here are our new additions for this February:

A Story of Saint Blaise
by Brother Franklin Cullen, C.S.C. (In the Footsteps of the Saints)
Exact reprint of 1958 Dujarie Press printing. This story of Saint Blaise is set in the year 316, during a great persecution of Christians. Always having a strong desire to help others, Saint Blaise became a doctor, then a priest, and later the Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. Saint Blaise is credited with many miracles, including one where he cured a little boy who was choking on a fishbone. Today, many people attend Mass on February 3rd to receive the Blessing of Saint Blaise on their throats. Reading this story can encourage us to follow in the footsteps of Saint Blaise, whose kindness and love for others enabled him to be a channel of God's grace to those who asked for his assistance.

Saint Bakhita of Sudan
by Virginia Helen Richards (Comicolor Saints)
also available directly from Pauline
Comicolor Saints are ideal for those who want more than a coloring book. In Saint Bakhita of Sudan, children find themselves drawn into the story of this African woman who was captured as a slave as a young girl. She was sold in the slave trade until she was taken to Italy and became the servant of Mrs. Michieli. She experienced kindness for the first time since she had been stolen from her family. She went to school with the Canossian sisters and eventually became a Catholic and a Canossian sister herself. Children will learn the value of each person, the virtue of hope and the promise of God's care for us, and the beauty of forgiveness. This coloring book also features cut-out trading cards, activities, and games.

I'm also planning to start reading Their Hearts Are His Garden to my littlest ones this February. We've had this beautiful book in our collection since our oldest was a baby. It starts with a sweet little story about God's Love (Part I: Basic) and even includes a short story about St. Valentine (Part IV: The Saints). We will read the first few parts during the month of February and then continue Part V: The Liturgical Year throughout the year. We have the OOP version from The Neumann Press (and TAN is currently sold out), but it you can find a copy it is definitely worth adding to your own collection!

Their Hearts are His Garden: Stories for Children 
A beautiful garden full of stories that children will love, but best of all, stories that will remain forever in their hearts. It is a perfect teaching aid for children from ages 3-8. Separated into five parts—Part I: Basics, Part II: The Way of Virtue, Part III: Mother and Father, Part IV: The Saints, Part V: The Church Year—and with fifty-nine stories or subjects such as Baptism, Birthdays, Patron Saints, God’s Love, The Cross, Heaven, Angels and Guardians, Prayer, Praying, Truth, St. Valentine, The Rosary, Christmas, Easter, etc. In the book’s Introduction we read “. . . It is the problem and the privilege of the religious teacher, whether at home or in the classroom, to foster and sustain in the child habits of thinking and acting as a child of God. . . . Desirable habits in the natural order should be launched under pleasurable circumstances.” Be assured this book qualifies over and over. (Imprimatur 1940).

You can find our complete list of saint books for the month of February here:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} :: iPhone Photos

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter. ~


Oooohhh! It's always so much fun opening packages from the talented and creative women over at Etsy! Ever since I first discovered Audrey Eclectic last fall I've been wanting to order some of her gorgeous art. I couldn't resist any longer and finally placed my first order last week!
 Thank you, Heather! I love it!!!

{Picture coming soon… It's a surprise for one of our children!} 


Last Monday night...
Triple Berry Cobbler just came out of the oven and is ready for the boys to enjoy when they get home from Hockey! They better hurry or the girls might eat it all...


Last Tuesday night...
After attending a local public hearing, Sean and I were able to go out for dinner! We tried a new restaurant that friends recommended and ordered burgers. I opted for the sweet potato fries and was surprised when they arrived with "Marshmallow Dipping Sauce." We laughed. I never realized that was actually a thing, but it was really yummy. Our children would love it!


Last Sunday afternoon..
She has been playing peek-a-boo with me all day ♥ {I also just finished posting my husband's review of the beautiful new book Treasure and Tradition. Here's the link.}

For those who have asked, I purchased my candle holder here.  :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates {Free Printable}

"Kindred spirits are not as scarce as I used to think."

Anne of Green Gables is currently one of our oldest daughter's favorite books. Last summer we celebrated her 11th birthday with an Anne of Green Gables themed party!  I made simple party favors with Hershey's Nuggets and a few favorite quotes from the book, similar to the Bible Candy Valentines we made last year. She has been rereading the beautiful hardcover edition we gave her on her birthday and, with the feast of St. Valentine right around the corner, she has been considering making these again as Valentines to give to friends at our annual party. You can download my document here if you'd like to make them as well!

"True Friends are always together in spirit."

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
{Party Favors or Valentine Cards}

  • 1 bag of Hershey's Nuggets (I purchased the 18 oz "Family Bag" of Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almond, wrapped in gold)
  • 1-2 sheets of Green Card Stock cut into 2.25" x 1.5" cards
  • 1/8" Ribbon or Yarn cut in 2 1/2" to 3" lengths
  • Scissors and Glue Stick
  • Free Printable

  1. Glue about 1/2" of the ribbon to the middle of your green paper rectangle. 
  2. Add additional glue to the paper and center the wrapped chocolates on the paper, side by side, over the ribbon. 
  3. Cut out the printed text (from printable or create your own) and fold in half. Cover the back with glue and attach it to the top of the chocolates, sticking the folded center down the middle of the two chocolates, creating the appearance of an open book. 
  4. Take the ribbon and put a little glue in the center of the side facing you. Bring the ribbon over the two pieces of chocolate and place it right down the middle of the open pages. You might need to press the ribbon down gently (with your finger or a paperclip) so it will stick. Let dry completely. 
Optional: Add To/Love labels to the back of each if using for Valentine Cards. 

You can find a detailed tutorial with additional pictures here: Bible Candy Valentines

Books for Girls :: A Closer Look at the Bookshelf

See the rest of the party pictures here: 

"Isn't it nice to know that tomorrow is a new day
 with no mistakes in it yet?"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review :: Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass

Last month I shared a link to the brand new Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass from St. Augustine Academy Press in my Preparing for Christmas :: Seven Fun Finds for Advent post. My husband and I were each given a review copy before it was released and, since he is much more familiar and knowledgeable about the Traditional Latin Mass (and also such a gifted writer and better able to do this beautiful book justice!), I asked him if he would write the review to share here at Shower of Roses. Thank you, Sean! 

Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass by Lisa Bergman
St. Augustine Academy Press, 2014

How do you put to words the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist? How does one explain the source and summit of the Christian life, the most holy and sublime of mysteries? How can anybody describe the liturgical expression that the Universal Church has officially promulgated in the Traditional Latin Mass, now commonly referred to as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite?

No words can adequately explain the sublime mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Lisa Bergman’s book Treasure and Tradition attains to man’s ability to put to words an explanation of the Sacred Liturgical Form of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Three words come to mind about the Latin Mass upon exploring it from using this Guide: Illumination, Appreciation, and Admiration.

Illumination. Treasure and Tradition acts as a beacon of light.  By definition a beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.  Indeed, it must be repeated that the mass is the source and summit of the Christian life.  Synthesizing Sacred Scripture, catechetical publications, historical and encyclopedic background, Bergman presents an illuminating and thoroughly researched resource for anyone old enough to read who would benefit to learn about the Roman Catholic Mass. In the book, the left hand pages are devoted to explanations of particular mass parts while the prayers that accompany those parts are included on the right side in both Latin and English. Bergman’s ability to incorporate images of sacred art and architecture reinforces the reader’s appreciation for the Church’s longstanding record of producing the most glorious artistic masterpieces in God’s honor. The images accompany explanations of the parts of the mass. Save for the short Bibliography and Devotionals sections, each and every page contains an illustration of some kind. Practically all of them are in full color. In the Guide, the reader will learn what is referred to as the Ordinaries and Propers of the Mass.  The reader will discover, with clarity and conciseness, the different forms of celebrating the Latin Mass, the Ecclesiastical Year, historical background of the mass, its sacrificial nature, and much, much more. The presentation and format is particularly well suited for teens, though adults without question will find the material in this guide exceptional.  Children and youth would likewise benefit, as the author walks the reader from the very basic understanding of worship to the most intricate detail.  The book truly is a guide - a beacon of light drawing interest to the Mystery of the Eucharist.  Like the mass itself, the guide is suitable for illuminating the widest possible reading audience on any level, including newcomers to the mass, non-Catholics, children, the poor, the advanced, and the indifferent.

Appreciation. The Latin Mass, on its own merit, evokes sentiments of gratitude and reverence. Treasure and Tradition dispels the apprehensions that an individual experiencing timidity or those harboring outright hostility may have towards this liturgical expression approved by the Church. Those witnessing a Latin Mass for the first time may first be struck by the silence and orderliness before them in both the sanctuary and the congregation. These characteristics are mere outcomes of a deeper affection: an endearing closeness to our Lord where the congregant both speaks to God from his heart and ardently listens to his tender promptings within him in the silence of the liturgy. The author explains the silence, the chants, and the order and reverence that this mass of the ages embodies.  This recalls the third discovered attribute of admiration.

Admiration. Through this book, the reader, whether a non-Catholic, newcomer to the Latin Mass, or experienced devotee will identify and realize a newfound recognition of the mass of the ages. The descriptions included in the Guide that explain the rituals and ceremonies prescribed in the mass reveal that the Church operates by the action of the Holy Spirit. The prayers, rituals and ceremonies weave an intricate thread, tying together the reality of Christ fulfilling the old covenant with the new. The reader, regardless of their denomination or spirituality will gain the understanding that the sacrificial aspect of the mass, both the priest's and ours, is not only very important, but necessary in our worship of the Almighty.

You can also find additional information about the Extraordinary Form in the archives:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January Daybook

Outside my window...
The boys were playing hockey in the driveway yesterday afternoon and called the rest of us out to the front porch to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous!

I am thinking...
I didn't participate in any of the online discussions about the Pope's recent comments, but I did have a little conversation about them with my husband and our oldest son must have been listening... I couldn't help laughing as I was reading the final draft of his Five Paragraph Interview Essay yesterday and noticed the simile he chose to include as required by his Student Writing Intensive checklist!

I am thankful... 
I am so thankful that our Dentist's office lets us schedule so many back-to-back appointments! Our schedule was crammed full the past two Tuesdays, but now all the Dental Exams and Cleanings are done for the next 6 months! Only Snuggles needs a follow-up appointment to have one of his baby teeth removed sometime within the next month.

From Instagram on Tuesday, January 20th:
My mom just called and said she had a little time this afternoon and asked if I needed any help... "Why YES!!!! I do! If you could meet me at the math tutor's at 1:30, I could then go home with all the little ones and you could take (three of the older children) to their afternoon appointments. The schedule isn't quite as bad as it was last week, but I'll make you a list of who needs to be where and when." ‪#‎thankyoumom‬ ‪#‎youarethebest‬ ‪#‎mydayjustgotsomucheasier‬

Learning all the time... 
We are nearing the end of our Biology course for this year and will begin Physics next month. Lately we have enjoyed observing our five new little friends who have been growing so incredibly fast! We will transfer them to the Butterfly Garden once they become chrysalides. Next up in our Laboratory WorkbooksGrow-a-Frog!

Celebrating the liturgical year...
The Feast of the Purification, which is also called Candlemas due to the traditional blessing of candles at Mass, is coming up on February 2nd. It is customary to bring candles (at least 51% beeswax) from home to be blessed for devotional purposes. Last year, in addition to the candles we had blessed, I ordered a pair of the Raw Beeswax Candles from Bluecorn Naturals which I LOVE! They burn so nicely and are such a beautiful addition to our dinner table. This year I decided to order some extra beeswax candles in various colors. I think the Eggplant Tapers will be perfect for during Lent, the Red Tapers for Pentecost, and the Moss Tapers for ordinary time!  I also need to purchase a couple more pillar candles for creating our 2015 Paschal Candle for Easter and Christ Candle for Christmas.

From the kitchen... 
I've used my crock pot nearly every day this past week. It has been such a huge help! After posting a picture on Instagram last Thursday I had a couple requests for my mom's "Chili for a Crowd" recipe. I made some modifications and rather than trying to type it all up in the comments over at Instagram I'm just going to share it here along with my notes.

Chili for a Crowd
(Serves 8-12) 

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I use 2 lbs)
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped (I used 1 bag of Trader Joe's Melange a Trois - Red, Yellow, & Green Bell Pepper Strips found in the frozen section) 
1/2 cup celery, chopped (I omitted the celery) 
1 tsp. chopped garlic (I used 2 cubes of the Dorot brand Crushed Garlic from Trader Joe's) 
3 - 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I used 2 cans of diced and 1 can of tomato sauce)
3 - 16 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted)

Sauté ground beef, onions, pepper, celery, and garlic. Drain fat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook over medium until it comes to a boil - 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Note: After sautéing I transferred it to my crock pot and stirred in the remaining ingredients. I did this the night before, since I wasn't going to have time in the morning. The next morning I set it on low for 8 hours and it was ready to eat when we arrived home from piano. The crock pot kept the chili warm for the boys' second dinner later that night after hockey! :)

From Instagram on Thursday, January 22nd:
It's so nice to have a little extra help in the kitchen on these busy days... I just walked back in the door and dinner will be ready in 1 minute! Tonight we are having my mom's "Chili for a Crowd" which happens to be "just enough" for our little family... especially on Hockey nights when the boys all end up eating dinner twice!

I am working on... 
I just finished adding a few posts from 2014 to Links for February :: Month Dedicated to the Holy Family. I can't believe February is only a week away!

I am creating...
Yesterday, Friday, January 23rd, was the final day of our second quarter. Our school year is officially half over!!! This weekend I'll be finalizing our plans for the second half of the school year and printing out the children's checklists for our third quarter.

I am going...
I have some Pirouette Cookies hidden away in the pantry, but I am going to need to pick up some Fudge Stripes Cookies and Mini Marshmallows so the kids can make our Candlemas Cookies with Drip Plates again this year.

I am hoping...
and praying, praying, praying, that we will be able to find a permanent replacement for Father K or better yet that God will work a small miracle and bring the FSSP (the order of priests to which my husband's three brothers belong) within driving distance. For the past two years Father has been traveling from a neighboring diocese to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at our local parish. In 2013 we were blessed to have the Latin Mass once per quarter and in 2014 the frequency increased to every other month for a total of 10 Masses over the past two years. Unfortunately Father was unable to commit to any Masses in 2015 and we are searching for a replacement. At this time we have a priest who has agreed to make the trip to offer a 7pm Mass on March 1st. It's a start!

I am praying...
a prayer my sister texted me last month. Thank you little sis!

Eternal, Holy God, I come to you burdened with worries, fears, doubts, and troubles. Calm and quiet me with peace of mind. Empty me of the anxiety that disturbs me, of the concerns that weary my spirit, and weigh heavy on my heart. Loosen my grip on the disappointments and grievances I hold on to so tightly. Release me from the pain of past hurts, of present anger and tension, of future fears. Sometimes it's too much for me Lord, too many demands and problems, too much sadness, suffering, and stress. Renew me spiritually and emotionally. Give me new strength, hope, and confidence. Prepare me to meet the constant struggles of daily life with a deeper faith and trust in You. Let your love set me free, for peace, for joy, for grace, for life, for others, forever. Amen.

I am reading…
Today I read a short story to my little ones about St. Francis de Sales from our January Book Basket. We have also been reading our review copy of Treasure and Tradition from St. Augustine Academy Press. Review coming soon!

Pondering these words…
from St. Francis de Sales that were quoted at the beginning of Chapter 7 in Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Guide to Catholic Motherhood:

"Accept the duties which come upon you quietly, and try to fulfill them methodically, one after another. If you attempt to do everything at once, or with confusion, you will only cumber yourself with your own exertions, and by dint of perplexing your mind you will probably be overwhelmed and accomplish nothing." 

I am listening…
to the girls practicing on the piano. They are loving their piano lessons this year. I am so thankful that we have finally found such an excellent piano teacher within driving distance. She teaches upstairs at a Presbyterian church and the girls will participate in their very first recital next month!

From Instagram on Thursday, January 22nd:
The girls are having fun enjoying some of the other instruments while waiting for their piano teacher!

Around the house...
There are always LEGO creations of some sort around our house. This little "King's Castle" is the boys' latest!

One of my favorite things...  
I love ice skating, though I don't get to skate nearly as much as I would like. The children were invited to participate in a local field trip to the rink on Friday the 16th, which happened to be my birthday. The five oldest could skate for free and any other family members only cost $5 each so we all decided to go!

From Instagram on Friday, January 16th:
Oh boy! Her first time ever and my first time in 7-8 (?) years! This should be fun!!!

Sean was able to take the day off work and we brought along a stroller for Bud. It was my first time skating since 2008 and Rose's first time ever. We had such a great time!

This week's plans
Same as usual… Mass on Sunday. Hockey practice on Monday and Thursday nights. Tutors on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Piano lessons on Thursday afternoon. Hockey games on Saturday morning.

A little peek at my day...
My little cowboy enjoying a boatload of oatmeal!

Isn't his TUG BOWL Dinner Set adorable?! He loves it! Here is one more picture taken just after he unwrapped it last month on his birthday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Made with Love :: Chocolate Cake, Strawberries & Thirty-Seven Candles!

I didn't think the kids were going to have time (after an afternoon spent ice skating!) which is why I made the Mud Pie, but the girls were putting the final touches on a birthday cake when Sean and I arrived home from our dinner date on my birthday last Friday night! They have decorated my birthday cakes the past couple years and apparently it is now "our tradition!"

We already had a couple chocolate cakes in the freezer (extras I had baked last month when I made from Bud's Farmer Boy Barnyard Birthday Cake, just in case the carrot cake didn't turn out) but I hadn't purchased or prepared any supplies for decorating. The girls frosted the cake and creatively decorated it with some strawberry halves along with the leftover chocolate topping and chopped almonds from the Mud Pie. It was such a delicious combination!

They were able to round up 37 random candles, leftover from all the birthdays this past year, and managed to fit them all on the cake… Even Bud helped!  

Mmmmmmm… I think they might need to make another one next month for St. Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dairy-Free Cappuccino Almond Fudge Mud Pie

One of my favorite desserts has always been Mud Pie from Baskin-Robbins. I can't enjoy it any more, thanks to my dairy-intolerance, but this past Friday I decided to try and make a homemade dairy-free and gluten-free version for my birthday. It turned out really yummy!

Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free
Cappuccino Almond Fudge Mud Pie


For the Crust:

Using a food processor (I don't own one so I used my Vita-Mix) crush the Gluten-Free Joe-Joe's. Add 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mix until combined. Using a spoon, press the cookie mixture into the center of a pie dish working it out from the middle and up the sides.  Place in the Freezer for 10 minutes.

For the Filling: 

Remove the crust from the freezer and add the Coconut Bliss. Depending on the size of your pie dish you may or may not need the full two pints. Spread the Coconut Bliss evenly over the crust, using a mix of both Cappuccino and Almond Fudge.  Place in Freezer for 10 minutes to refreeze while you make the Chocolate Topping. 

Note: Mocha Almond Fudge from SoDelicious would also be perfect for this Mud Pie!

For the Chocolate Topping: 

In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the pie, or spread with a spatula if you prefer to cover the whole pie with chocolate.  

Note:You may need to reheat the chocolate topping if it starts to harden before you have a chance to drizzle it over the top of the pie.

Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping and chopped almonds. 

Note: I did this before placing the Mud Pie back in the freezer, but next time I'll probably add the whip cream just before serving. 

Place the Mud Pie back in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving.